Is All Probate Created Equally?

Nothing about coping with the loss of a loved one is easy. From making funeral arrangements to struggling with the emotional toll, nothing can prepare you for what comes after you lose a close family member or friend.

For some family members, the challenges of coping with a loved one’s death also include going through the probate process. Probate is the formal mechanism for resolving a person’s final affairs; and, whether a person dies with or without a will, at least some amount of probate will be required. In Florida, there are different types of probate, and determining which type of probate you need to use is the first step for moving forward.

What are the Types of Probate in Florida?

Florida law establishes three different types of probate, each of which must be used under varying circumstances. These are (i) formal administration, (ii) summary administration and (iii) ancillary administration. There is also a fourth option for small estates, called disposition without administration, which is the most informal level of probate.

Formal Administration

Formal administration is the most-common form of probate in Florida. If your loved one’s estate consists of $75,000 or more of non-exempt assets, then you will be required to use the formal administration process.

With formal administration, the decedent’s personal representative is tasked with administering his or her estate subject to the Florida probate court’s oversight and approval. The process can take anywhere from months to years, with six months to a year being a fairly common timeframe for most estates.
Probate Court Document

Summary Administration

Summary administration involves simplified procedures as compared to formal administration and is only available for estates worth less than $75,000 (excluding exempt assets) or where the decedent has been dead for more than two years. In order to be eligible for summary administration, the decedent’s debts must also be paid in full. With summary administration, once the Florida probate court approves the petitioner's initial filing, it will issue an order distributing the estate’s assets to the decedent’s heirs and devisees.

Ancillary Administration

Ancillary administration is used to probate assets located in Florida when the decedent is not a Florida resident. For example, if your loved one owned a vacation home in Florida and lived out-of-state, then you would need to use ancillary administration to distribute the vacation home according to your loved one’s estate plan.

Probate Spelled Out With Scrabble Pieces

Disposition Without Administration

Disposition without administration is an even more-simplified process than summary administration. It is an option in cases where the decedent left only very limited assets and none of his or her assets are subject to creditors’ claims.

Speak With Jacksonville, FL Probate Attorney Mark F. Moss

Deciding which form of probate you need to use can be challenging; and, if your loved one left a trust or has assets that otherwise fall outside of probate, then you will need to appropriately address these non-probate transfers as well. In order to make informed decisions and avoid mistakes, it is best to work with an experienced probate attorney. If you are preparing to go through the probate process and would like to speak with attorney Mark F. Moss, please call 904-329-7242 or inquire online today.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Law Offices of Mark F. Moss, PLLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.